Fall, Spring, Summer, Academic Year
San Ramón, Costa Rica
2.5 GPA, One year college Biology with laboratory for Life & Health Science Studies
9/24 for spring
2/24 for fall/Academic Year
3/4 for summer
Click the Application tab.
This program is designed for science majors interested in learning more about health, ecology, and conservation biology in Costa Rica. Additionally, the program offers courses in the Spanish language and Cultural Studies. The academic courses are only a part of the value of USAC Studies in Costa Rica as students have the opportunity learn about contemporary Costa Rican society through personal interaction and immersion in the the host culture. The program is administered by the University Studies Abroad Consortium (USAC), of which the University of Iowa is a member. The USAC Resident Director and staff are present on-site full-time to welcome and support students during their term abroad. UI students earn resident credit on this program.
English-taught courses in ecology and biology require one year of college-level biology with lab. Many of the science courses are complemented by optional field studies for credit and some times an additional fee, that take students out of the classroom and to different habitats around Costa Rica. Spanish language study is done according to Tracks that align with students' abilities. Two semesters of college-level Spanish language can be completed in one semester. Language study is highly encouraged as it will increase students understanding of Costa Rican culture and equip students with language and cross-cultural skills that will be beneficial to daily life while abroad.
All courses are taught exclusively for program participants by local Costa Rican faculty. Students take their courses at Sede Occidente which is the oldest satellite campus of the Universidad de Costa Rica (UCR).
USAC offers two 4-week summer sessions. Students can do either session or both. During Session I, students in roll in three to six semester hours, and in Session II students enroll en three or five semester hours. One 3-semester hour course must be taken each summer session. Course availability is contingent upon student interest and enrollment and is subject to change.USAC San Ramón Program website.
USAC students enjoy the privileges accorded local students at the university so students are encouraged to participate in local university activities, student clubs, and organizations. Many organized field trips are included in your program fee. These field trips may take students to Monteverde Cloud Forest, Tortuga Island, Arenal Volcano, and Jaco Beach. Additionally, students will have field trips as part of many of their courses and have numerous informal activities that expose them to the local culture.
Fall: Late August to mid-December
Spring: Mid-January to mid-May
Summer Session I: Late May to early July
Summer Session II: Early July to early August
1111 University Capitol Centre
Iowa City, IA 52242
The Sede de Occidente (UCR) is the oldest satellite campus of the Universidad de Costa Rica. All USAC classes are held on campus. Students have use of the campus laboratories, teaching collections, hervarium, and research assets.its. Additionally, students have the privileges as local students at the university so students are encouraged to participate in local university activities, student clubs, and organizations.
San Ramón is approximately 36 miles northwest of Costa Rica's national capital city, San José, and is in the beautiful Central Valley of Costa Rica. The city has a population of roughly 9,000 inhabitants and sits at an elevation of 3,468 feet above sea level. Because of its elevation San Ramón enjoys average daily high temperatures around 80°F and average daily low temperatures of 65°F. There are two seasons, the rainy or green season which is June through October and the dry season from November to May.
Costa Rica is bordered by Nicaragua to the north, the Caribbean Sea to the east, Panama to the south, and the Pacific Ocean to the west. While occupying only 0.01% of the earth's land mass, the country hosts 5% of the world's biodiversity. Costa Rica has progressive environmental polices and is the only country to meet all five United Nations Development Program criteria established to measure environmental sustainability. A pioneer of ecotourism, Costa Rica draws many tourists to its extensive series of national parks and other protected areas. Costa Rica aspires to become carbon neutral in 2050.
The US Department of State provides safety and security information for every country of the world to help you assess for yourself the risks of travel. Each country information page contains a Travel Advisory, Alerts, and other important details specific to that country that could affect you.
Pay close attention to the entry and exit requirements, local laws and customs, health conditions, and other details to help decide whether traveling to any given country is right for you. Non-US citizen travelers may also wish to seek guidance from the embassy of their country of citizenship. The UI International Travel Policy for Students addresses restrictions on student travel to high-risk locations and engagement in high-risk activities abroad.
Students will move in with their host family upon arrival to San Ramón. All families live within easy commuting distance of the university and will provide students with daily breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Students will have a private bedroom and laundry service. Host families are interested in their students and their students' activities and serve as a good resource for practical local information and advice. Students get to live and learn the Tico culture from their host family.
If you do not have a passport, it is important that you apply for one as soon as possible to ensure you receive it before the program begins. US citizens can find more information about how to apply for a passport on the US Department of State’s website.Students with a valid passport should check the expiration date. Passports must be valid for at least 6 months AFTER the anticipated return to the US from studying abroad. If your passport is not valid for at least 6 months after your anticipated date of return to the US, you must renew your passport before applying for a visa or leaving the United States.
US citizens can find more information about how to renew a passport on the US Department of State’s website.
Students make their own travel arrangements to arrive in Chile by a designated date. Specific information will be provided in post-acceptance materials from USAC .
San Ramón is easily walkable, however, it does have a public bus system and taxis are available as well.
This program is open to UI students who fulfill the following requirements:
Good academic and disciplinary standing - It is the policy of the UI Study Abroad office that all students who study abroad must be in both good academic standing and good disciplinary standing at the time of their application. Students who, even after being accepted into a program, are put on either academic and/or disciplinary probation for any period of time overlapping with the study abroad program dates are ineligible to study abroad. In these cases, students must forfeit their acceptance and will not be allowed to study abroad. Any student who must forfeit their acceptance and/or attendance on a study abroad program due to a probationary status is wholly responsible for any and all financial expenses incurred.
The cost sheet outlines the total estimated costs associated with participating in this program and can be used for financial aid and planning purposes. They include fees charged on students’ U-Bill as well as out-of-pocket expenses. Actual out-of-pocket expenses will vary from individual to individual. Quoted estimates are conservatively high, yet realistic.
Most financial aid (scholarships, grants, and loans) is applicable to study abroad programs. Please check the Study Abroad website for information on financial aid and how it may be applied to studying abroad. You are also encouraged to speak with someone at the Office of Student Financial Aid to explore financial aid options. Scholarship opportunities exist for study abroad participants. Please explore Study Abroad’s websites for UI Study Abroad Scholarship Opportunities.
USAC funding opportunites are available for students participating in a USAC program. The comprehensive list of scholarships is detailed on USAC's Scholarships and Discounts webpage.
Students will need to complete a University of Iowa Study Abroad application and a USAC Online application. Information on these applications will come from the study abroad advisor. Final admissions decision is made by USAC.
Fall and Academic Year: February 24
Spring: September 24
Summer: March 4
It is highly recommended that students review the following information:
In order to prepare for your time abroad, you are required by the University of Iowa to complete two orientations. In addition to orientations provided UI Study Abroad, USAC may have other required pre-departure orientations and information. Please see below for more information.
You are required to complete the International Programs online “Education Abroad Pre-Departure Orientation” course distributed through ICON prior to departure. This orientation is mandatory for all students going abroad under the auspices of the University of Iowa. It covers many practical matters about living overseas, such as health and safety, communication, money, goals and much more. You will be enrolled in this course by International Programs and an email will be sent to you once enrolled. If you have any questions you can email email@example.com.
This orientation will be facilitated by your study abroad advisor and will cover content specific to the University of Iowa including, but not limited to, billing, insurance, the Credit Approval Form (CAF), and transcripts. It could be conducted in a group setting or one-on-one depending on the type of planned activity abroad. Your study abroad advisor will send you more information about this mandatory in-person session.
USAC provides students with pre-departure documents in their USAC GATEWAY that include such topics as; Visa Guide, Arrival Guide, Site specific COVID guidelines, Pre-Departure Timeline, Packing Lists, Study Abroad Toolkit, and On-site wellness guide. In addition to the information on the USAC Gateway, USAC has a Virtual Orientation for students and parents and students will have one mandatory advising Zoom or phone session with USAC. Moreover, USAC has site-specific webinars with enrolled students and/or on-site staff.